Leonard Cohen Was Well Worth The Wait
By Christopher Tessmer, for the Leader-Post
April 29, 2013 11:06 AM
Singer/musician Leonard Cohen, pictured here performing at Radio City Music Hall
on April 6, 2013 in New York City, was a big hit at the Brandt Centre on Sunday night.
Photograph by: Jemal Countess , Getty Images files
REGINA -- While fans of the incomparable Leonard Cohen may have had to wait since early March for his rescheduled concert, the revered Canadian icon gave folks their money’s worth and then some on Sunday evening.
Performing for over three hours, the 78-year old singer/songwriter and poet laureate embarked on a lyrical journey with a vigour that outlasted many in the audience.
Taking the stage at precisely 8:15 p.m. and dressed in a suit and trademark black fedora, Cohen earnestly apologized for the “inconvenience” of previously postponing the show due the flu outbreak he and the band encountered.
Opening with Dance Me to the End of Love, the Montreal-born artist demonstrated an unexpected quirkiness, dropping to his knees while singing the lyrics. Surprisingly, this was one of Cohen’s go-to moves during many of the songs, while slowly stalking the stage through others.
Joining Cohen, on the elegantly simple staging, were his magnificent band and three accompanying singers. While the Brandt Centre often becomes a wall of sound during many rock and pop concerts, the old stadium sounded transcendent with every movement shining through as intended. The aural spectrum was spectacular as every instrument could be heard perfectly with nary a note sounding muddled.
While the legendary vocalist was the main attraction, and deservedly so, his band was absolutely sublime with a talent level that rivals any touring today. Javier Mas, 12-string guitarist, who also plays the bandurria (similar to a Spanish mandolin), was beyond impressive with his finger work and precision. Truthfully, Mas and violinist Alexandru Bublitchi would have been worth the cost of admission alone.
Cohen’s accompanying singers were also superb, with longtime collaborator Sharon Robinson taking lead vocals on Alexandra Leaving, and the Webb Sisters (Hattie and Charley) performing If It Be Your Will while also assisting with duties on the harp, clarinet, and guitar.
Known for his sardonic and self-deprecating humour, the near octogenarian quipped, “I hope this isn’t a farewell tour, but in a sense we’re all on a farewell tour. I promise you tonight that we’ll give you everything we’ve got.”
Later after a 20-minute intermission, upon returning to the stage, he once again teased the crowd thanking them for not going home.
If there was one complaint, it was a minor one, as the lengthy show became too much for many in the crowd who left after Hallelujah, or after the first or second encores. While it’s odd to complain about too much value in today’s concert industry, a start time an hour earlier may have been more appropriate considering a long work week beckoning for most and the show finishing mere minutes before midnight.
In perspective, without the prescience of knowing if we’ll be blessed to see Mr. Cohen again in Regina in the future, it’s a small price to pay.
Heck, if a 78-year old man can stay up that late to perform for us, who’s to complain about being a little tired the next day at work.
1. Dance Me to the End of Love
2. The Future
3. Bird on the Wire
4. Everybody Knows
5. Who by Fire
6. The Darkness
7. Ain’t No Cure for Love
9. Come Healing
10. First We Take Manhattan
11. A Thousand Kisses Deep (recitation)
13. Tower of Song
15. The Gypsy’s Wife
16. Waiting for the Miracle
17. Show Me the Place
19. Lover Lover Lover
20. Alexandra Leaving (performed by Sharon Robinson)
21. I’m Your Man
23. Take This Waltz
24. So Long, Marianne
25. Going Home
26. Closing Time
27. Famous Blue Raincoat
28. If It Be Your Will (performed by the Webb Sisters)
29. I Can’t Forget
30. I Tried to Leave You
31. Save the Last Dance for Me